The project management project

When Nillumbik Shire Council CEO Stuart Burdack started three years ago, he introduced a strategy called ‘Future Directions’, which aimed to identify improvement initiatives across the organisation.

A number of themes emerged through staff consultation, one of which was the need to improve systems, tools, training and accountability around project management.

With organisation-wide recognition that many projects could be better managed, Nillumbik made ‘effective, consistent project management’ a business priority and set out to establish, promote and embed project management excellence into the culture of the organisation.

Mr Burdack said a framework including an online project management hub, new processes and tools and a Project Management Community, along with commitment from all staff, have brought Nillumbik a long way to achieving best practice project management.

“Led by the Organisational Development team, we’ve used an inclusive, action-learning methodology, to develop a common language, skills set and project management community within our organisation.

“The framework is customised to our needs and has the flexibility and adaptability to enable common principles and practices to be used for all aspects of our work.

“This applies to the most complex of strategic planning or capital works projects and extends to the more routine community engagement or service delivery processes.”

In just two years, more than 100 employees have undertaken in-house project management training, with a further 16 studying towards a Diploma of Project Management delivered by an external provider during work hours. Through facilitation of this formal qualification for staff, Nillumbik has enhanced knowledge and implementation of best practice project management, with graduates of the diploma able to advise and mentor other staff.

Another vital component has been the Project Management Community, which was established to ensure commitment and support for the project across the organisation. Mr Burdack said staff view involvement in the Community as a ‘must do’ because it helps them do better work and has radically improved planning, communication and delivery.

“It has provided a mechanism for continuous shared learning and we are able to more consistently meet the commitments that we make as an organisation to our Council and community.”

The online project management hub equips staff with consistent templates, tools and documentation. This has helped projects to remain on track, improved reporting processes and increased the level of accountability.

As well as being embraced internally, this initiative has been recognised outside the organisation. In August this year, organisational development coordinator David Twyerould was a nominee for the SACS Leadership Awards’ Non-Executive Local Government Award for his key role in improving Nillumbik’s approach towards project management.